1) I will be sad to see our last series, Difficult People, go... which is a strange thing to say because after scheduling and planning the series, I almost immediately regretted doing so. Why? It seemed "self help-ish" to me, and history has taught me that I'm not all that good at that kind of preaching. My mentor at Goshen First, Dick Lyndon, was a the master of such series. He loved pop psych kinds of sermons ripped from all kinds of Christian and secular self-help books. The upshot was that he'd write the sermon, and then go find the scripture to support it (or "proof texting" as we say in the biz).
I was trained to start with the scripture. To spend time with it. Let it speak, listen to what it has to say, and then relay the message to everyone else. I disliked (and still do) applying scripture, post-partum, to the body of a sermon. But unfortunately, most of what passes as popular preaching right now is proof-texting so strangely enough, people who do sermons like I do are accused of being less biblical simply cause we have less volume of scripture incorporated into a service. Of course, if you take some time after a proof-texted sermon to see if how the scripture was used in the sermon was consistent with its meaning in the greater biblical text, in many cases you'll find yourself disappointed.
But I digress....
In the end, I felt like we were able to find a biblical foundation that enabled us to make our point. And from the comments received, I think people received it well.
2) Now, for the duration of Lent, we will be looking at a number of quotes attributed to Jesus, and with each one ask three questions:
- How did what he say impact his world?
- How has what he said impacted our world?
- How might his words now impact your world?
That's the plan, anyway. My hope is to have audio copies of the sermons from this series available on-line, either in terms of streaming or as pod-casts that can be accessed at ITunes. We'll see if we can't get that done.
3) That was a great Super Bowl game last night, and coming from me that really means something. Nobody was less enthusiastic about that game than I was yesterday. As I put to the congregation, I was watching it solely because it was the Super Bowl and it beat thinking (ah yes, what a comforting thing for a senior pastor to say... I'm sure my preaching prof, Elsworth Kalas, would be proud). But the game turned out to be a good one. Lots of defense and hard-hitting. And who have thunk little brother Eli would pull together one of those end of game defining drives like, well.... his older brother? And given all the controversy around Spygate, the Giants win did have kind of a "cheaters never prosper" kind of feel. In any event, there was good company (Dad came over to watch the game), good food (he brought pizza from Westside), and good football. Who could ask for more?
4) Can't say the commercials were all that great... save one. This one made Dad, the boys (including Eli), and I laugh out loud:
5) I think Max is growing an inch a day right now. We were over at my Father-in-law's on Saturday, and when I saw Max standing next to Bryant, I almost choked. Another year and he'll be as tall as his grandfather. He's only 8 (although he'll be 9 in 12 days.... we're doing a birthday party at the Spencerville Bowling Alley). I think he ate 12 pieces of pizza last night, and this was after two grilled cheese sandwiches and a big bowl of fruit at lunch. As soon as Max realizes that he's bigger than his peers, and unleashes that aggressive streak that we see around his brother, he's gonna be a monster.
Of course, his mother would be just as happy to have Max become a concert pianist or an oboe player (of course this commercial gives me hope):
He could be drafted out of Ohio State in the second round. That'd be fine with me. He could even take his oboe with him.
6) The election is starting to gain some clarity. On the Democratic side, it's down to Hillary and Obama. On the Republican side, McCain and Romney are the front runners, while Hucklebee hopes to win over evangelicals in the south on Super Tuesday to keep his race alive. Everyone else left is either in it to make a point, or maybe become a third party candidate (which is a possibility, I think, with Ron Paul - who I am told I ignored last week - who was always just a Libertarian masquerading as a Republican anyway.... he's the only candidate with the grassroots support outside of his party's mainstream to even think about this kind of run). Just think... a week ago I thought there was a real possibility of these primaries being settled in a smoke-filled backroom. The reality is that the sheer expense of a campaign, coupled with the both the media and each party's mutual desire to set up a front-runner as a means of focusing on the general election make anything other than the "convention as coronation" an impossibility. I predict that in both parties a clear-front runner will emerge by the middle of this month, and the focus of the media will become more on who will be the vice-presidential candidates. That's how quickly things are changing in this election.
7) Had a nice lunch with a pastor whose church is in the south-end of Lima, just breaking bread and talking about the issue arising from the Tarika Glenn shooting. The more conversation I have regarding the racial and economic issues that have reared their ugly head in the midst of this tragedy and its aftermath, the more I am becoming convinced that only those at the grassroots who are invested in one another from across the community can begin to deal with some of the division that exists among us. The media, political leaders, and clergy face so many issues that consume out time and energy that we tend to, over time, tend to start putting our energy elsewhere after situations like this flair up and certain adjustments are made. In opinion, it'll take on-going relationships of people committed to making a difference that in the end will lead to any kind of change. This lunch was just an attempt to try and make those connections.
The pastor I broke bread with is a sharp guy. One of the things he's discerning in the midst of all the discussion around the issue is while the discussion around these issues largely is being done by people who are older, those who are younger and more prone to react violently are largely not a part of the dialog. This is a real problem, and underscores the decline all of us who are a part of the institutional church are facing as our connection with younger generations continue to weaken. How this will be addressed as leaders in the city continue to work together on these issues will be crucial to helping frame positive solutions.
8) The Giants victory last night wasn't yesterday's only sports upset. After being handily defeated earlier this year, I eclipsed Brother Esq as we met head to head in our Fantasy NBA League last week. I'm sure he'll make some comment that he was without one of his horses, Chris Kaman (C - Clippers). But Kaman really only helps you a lot with Offensive, Defensive, and Total rebounds, and blocks, all of which I lost anyway. With him back, Brother Esq have just beat me worse in those areas statistical areas, without gaining any other ground (except maybe in FG%). Besides, I was missing one of my best players (Corey Maggette) and to waive one of my best rebounders (Anderson Varejao, out with an ankle injury, which is bad news for the Cavs). In any event, it was a victory for truth, justice, and the American way!
9) Yes, I am recovering quite nicely from my vasectomy.... thanks for asking.
10) Eli, whose lack of words we could understand, is beginning to catch on to the English language. In the last 24 hours I've heard him use the words "pizza", "papaya", "Dora" (as in the Explorer), "Lucy" (our dog), and as I left the house this morning, "Hug!?!". Daddy, of course, offered and received a big hug from a little boy who is just starting to find his voice. Very exciting times, indeed.